Thai, Malaysian Firms Pull Out Of Myanmar Project

Malaysia's iconic Twin Towers are seen in the background of the Malaysian oil and gas company Petronas logo at a petrol station in Kuala Lumpur. (AFP Photo)

Thailand's oil and gas conglomerate PTTEP and Malaysia's Petronas announced Friday they would withdraw from the Yetagun gas project in coup-hit Myanmar.

There has been an exodus of global energy companies from Myanmar including Chevron and TotalEnergies following last year's military takeover and subsequent allegations of human rights abuses.

More than 1,800 civilians have died during a military crackdown and more than 13,000 have been arrested, according to a local monitoring group.

Petronas subsidiary Carigali holds a roughly 41 percent stake in the Yetagun project while PTTEP has a 19.31 share.

"The withdrawal is part of the company's portfolio management to refocus on projects that support the energy security for the country," PTTEP chief executive Montri Rawanchaikul said in a statement Friday.

PTTEP said its stake will be reallocated proportionately to the remaining shareholders with no commercial value, effective upon regulatory approval.

Petronas, which has operated the project since 2003, said in a statement the decision followed a review and was part of an "asset rationalisation strategy" to adapt to "the changing industry environment and accelerated energy transition".

The 24,130 square kilometre field in the Gulf of Moattama produces natural gas and condensate.

Japan's Nippon Oil and Gas Exploration and Myanmar's junta-linked Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise have the remaining stakes in the project.

PTTEP's decision is not the end of its involvement with Myanmar.

In March, PTTEP said it will take over the running of Myanmar's vital Yadana gasfield following the withdrawal of Chevron and TotalEnergies in January.

The American and French firms said they would pull out of Myanmar following growing international pressure from human rights groups to cut financial ties with the junta.

The Yadana gas field in the Andaman Sea provides electricity to Myanmar and Thailand, one of a number of gas projects that Human Rights Watch says make up Naypyidaw's largest source of foreign currency revenue, generating more than US$1 billion annually.

Myanmar's military has interests in large swathes of the country's economy, including oil and gas.

Other international firms – including British American Tobacco and French renewable energy firm Voltalia – have also pulled back from Myanmar since February last year.

A spokesperson for rights group Justice for Myanmar called on companies involved with the Yetagun gas project to completely sever ties with the military.

"The field is near depletion and we call on Petronas and its international partners to decommission the field in accordance with environmental best practices, and responsibly disengage," Yadanar Maung said.

"Petronas and their partners must ensure no more revenue flows to the Myanmar junta."